Concerns regarding touristic commodification and its effects on host communities have long been a staple of tourism research. While on one hand, tourism is often heralded as a powerful tool for promoting economic development, critics argue that the commodification of local ways of life and traditions often jeopardize the realness or authenticity of local cultures. While tourism development certainly has the potential to be detrimental to host communities (and particularly those deemed to be highly traditional), a growing body of research in the fields of anthropology, human geography and tourism studies suggest that under some circumstances, tourism may present local peoples with opportunities conductive to cultural valorization and rediscovery.
In this thesis, I investigate the links between tourism and changing local identities in Santa Elena Yucatán. The aim of this research is to arrive at a deeper understanding of how tourism has affected the lives of locals focusing chiefly on changing perceptions and approaches regarding local culture and identity. To this end, this investigation utilizes tools from the fields of narrative analysis, ethnography and visual anthropology.